Who Was That Masked Man? Gary D. Robinson November 1, 2006 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the Masked Rider of the Plains led the fight for law and justice in the early west! Hear the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!” The Masked Man and his faithful Indian companion Tonto have all but faded from the popular imagination. That’s a real shame. We’ve never been in more need of the virtues the Ranger embodied. Though he wore a mask, the Lone Ranger stood for truth and honesty. He transformed a symbol of theft and deceit into a dark harbinger of justice. Bad as I hate to admit it, the Ranger’s disguise was the exception to the rule. Our text doesn’t mention masks as such, but it speaks of the dangers of deceit and the need for truth – even when the truth isn’t very flattering. Let’s be wise to the seductive lure of the Lie. Heed Paul’s warnings against hiding, covering, and masking ourselves. Don’t hide your weakness. In Paul’s brilliant defense of his ministry, he tackles his critics in an engagingly subversive way. Lacking the glory of the “super-apostles” with whom the Corinthians were so taken (2 Cor. 11:5), Paul refuses to deny his human weakness. He won’t be like Moses, who hid his face so that the fickle Israelites wouldn’t notice the passing glory (3:13). He refuses to mask his own humanity. Rather, as he declares elsewhere, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7). God hasn’t given the task of saving the world to super-heroes. He’s given it to those who place their humanity in His big, strong hands. Some of the most effective ministers I’ve known were the weakest vessels. David Ring can barely talk because of Cerebral Palsy, yet he has stirred thousands with his preaching. He hides nothing. Rather, he displays the power of God in a frail human life. I know two elderly ladies who have a hard time getting around, but hurting people beat a path to their door. They know they’ll receive wisdom, comfort, and encouragement from this dynamic duo. Of course, in order to know His power in us, to see it flowing from us, we must first see our need. Therefore . . . Don’t cover your eyes. Paul writes sadly of his fellow Jews whose eyes are covered with a “veil” (3:14-15). Jesus said, “You diligently study the scriptures . . . the scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). They pored over Moses and the Prophets, but failed to see where they were pointing. As my Dad might’ve said, “They couldn’t see for lookin’!” I constantly pray that, when I expound the Word of God, eyes will really see and ears will really hear. I pray even harder that my “vessel,” though cracked and stained, will be clean. I’ve heard a lot about “Lone Rangers” in the ministry. What scares me more are masked riders in the pulpit. Paul admonishes us preachers, then, saying . . . Don’t mask your sin! I don’t mean flaunt your sin. I don’t mean feel free to disobey the Lord. I mean live an honest and open life. Live as a free person – free to love others with every word and deed. How many preachers and church leaders have fallen? How many churches have been damaged on account of stealth and cunning? Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase is helpful here: “We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God” (4:2). The whole truth on display. As another faded pop-culture character might’ve put it, “I yam what I yam and thas’ all I yam!” In a world of masked men and veiled women, may the Lord give us courage to walk and talk the truth. __________________ Sermon brief provided by: Gary Robinson, a Church of Christ minister in Conneautville, PA. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.